Monday, February 13, 2017

Do Not Go Gentle … Be Bold About Services

Let’s be honest.

There is a stereotype of adults with I/DD that they exist in a kind of permanent youth. It can be easy to subconsciously embrace that stereotype and create service models and events that are designed only to keep people safe and occasionally occupied. Services and events that are “gentle” and “caring” but don’t focus on enhancing skills the individuals have, or helping them build new ones. These are often I/DD specific; services and events that make everyone involved feel better and contribute to the stereotype of youthful adults.

I refuse to accept that. An adult with I/DD is someone’s child, the same as I am my parent’s child. But that is where it ends. Adults, regardless of disability, have wants, needs, dreams, and experiences which infuse their lives with meaning and potential. Our job at Imagine! is to discover that potential and do everything we can to insist that person reach it. The best services aren’t, and shouldn’t be, gentle. They should be purposeful and bold. They should be about teaching and building and strengthening and going beyond one’s comfort zone. They should be daring and innovative with outcomes that result in stronger, healthier, more engaged citizens, regardless of ability or disability.

I hope you all will join me in embracing these values and work to design and deliver services and events with long-term and meaningful outcomes as the goal and the measuring stick of progress. We should always be aiming for higher ground.

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If we can’t or won’t do that, then we need to question if we are meeting our purpose and our mission.

Then again, what do I know?

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